Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Wednesday February 14 2007
The Reebok Stadium
14th Febuary 2007
Arsenal will be looking to break the Bolton curse on Wednesday as they travel up North for the umpteenth time this season. The Gunners have won only 1 of the last eight meetings between the 2 clubs, a 1-0 victory at The Reebok 2 years ago if my memory serves me right.
Bolton are traditionally a team that like to play physical, direct football but the summer arrival of Le sulk has seen the overall quality of Bolton`s game greatly increase. Don`t get me wrong, they`re still a team full of thugs and orcs, but they now seemingly have the ability to play football approaching the way it`s meant to be played.
A home tie against Blackburn awaits the winner of the tie. The game will be played on Saturday.
N.B. The game is live on BBC1, not Sky.
Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger says he is not a believer in the Bolton hoodoo: "If you look at the recent results then yes, OK, but I don`t experience it like that.
"They have taken advantage of our weak points every time but overall I never look at any opponents ever as being a team we cannot be successful against. I just think if you do the right things then you win.
"You have to give them credit because they beat us 3-1 up there this season and at home in the FA Cup they played out a 1-1. We had a very strong second half and they were under a lot of pressure. That is what we want to do tonight."
Kolo Toure says that Arsenal are out for revenge tonight: "The whole squad is hungry to beat Bolton after they`ve got the better of us in recent seasons,' says Toure in The Sun. 'Now it`s our turn to get revenge.
"We know it won`t be easy because they have been playing recently at home. But we are going there with the intention of getting in to the next round of the FA Cup.
"We are capable of putting it together and raising our game when things get tough."
Bolton midfielder Stelios says that Bolton are going to be as dirty as ever when they face Arsenal today: "They (Arsenal) don`t like a physical challenge and don`t like direct football - but we do that stuff. We know what`s needed to win.
"Our record against Arsenal helps us. It keeps our confidence high and we always play well (dirty) against them. It`s a massive game for us and I hope we will do well against them one more time.
"We`ll give it everything to get to the next round."
Kevin Davies (ankle) and Abdoulaye Faye (abscess) are definantly out while Abdoulaye Meite (calf) and Gary Speed (dead leg) are both doubtful.
Ivan Campo has recovered from a virus.
Anelka has scored 4 goals against 2 of his former clubs this season (2 each against Man City and Arsenal). It was his double strike back in November that shot down Arsenal at the Reebok.
Arsene Wenger has chosen to 'rest' Thierry Henry for the trip up North along with Jens Lehmann.
Freddie Ljungberg and Alex Hleb both return for Arsenal but Gallas (thigh), Eboue and Flamini (both ankle) are all out while Big Phill is suspended.
This is the kind of game that the Togo hitman shines in, it's a chance for him to display his combination of skill, pace and grit. 1-0 Adebayor anyone?
Arsenal are unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions. The last team to inflict defeat on Arsenal was United - Sheffield United in December.
Last 6 games: P6 W3 D3 L0
Bolton have won their last 2 games, a 2-1 victory over Fulham and a 1-0 victory ov Watford.
Last 6 games: P6 W2 D3 L1
Chris Foy (Merseyside) is the Ref today. Let's hope he's not a LIverpool fan (3-1 cough cough).
Hmmm. I'm really torn on this, my head says it's going to be a very tight game, perhaps a 1-0 either way or pens but my heart says Arsenal will well and truly smash the Bolton curse with an emphatic win. I'm going to sit on the fence and say penalties.
The winner of this game has a home tie against Blackburn on Saturday.
Date:Wednesday February 14 2007
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